ACC Weekend Review: 01.23.18 Edition

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on January 23rd, 2018

It was a good weekend for traveling ACC teams from the Sunshine State as both Florida State and Miami picked up a couple key road wins. On Saturday, the Seminoles raced past Virginia Tech in Blacksburg and the next day the Hurricanes held off NC State in Raleigh. In other league action, Virginia (6-0) maintained its unbeaten mark and conference lead by taking care of Wake Forest in Winston-Salem on Sunday evening, while Louisville (5-1) remains right behind the Cavaliers after defeating Boston College on Saturday afternoon at the KFC Yum! Center. Here are the highlights from this weekend’s action around the ACC.

Sophomore M.J. Walker came off the bench to lead Florida State past Virginia Tech in a tough home loss for the Hokies on Saturday. (Michael Shroyer/USA TODAY Sports)

  • Best Win: Jim Larranaga‘s team was in clear need of a big ACC win and the Hurricanes got it by taking down a surging NC State team in Raleigh on Sunday. Miami leveraged its best offensive performance in league play to date (1.23 points per possession) in beating the Wolfpack, getting particularly hot from the perimeter (10-of-19 3FG) and snapping NC State’s three-game home winning streak.

  • Worst Loss: Virginia Tech badly needed to protect its home court on Saturday but failed to do so in falling to Florida State, 91-82. Once again, the Hokies’ shoddy effort on defense was the issue. Buzz Williams’ team — which ranks dead last in effective field goal percentage defense in ACC games — allowed the Seminoles to post a robust 61.2 percent mark on their way to a 90-point road performance. Virginia Tech redeemed itself on Monday night in an 80-69 home win against North Carolina, but that’s what makes the previous loss so confounding. KenPom currently projects the 3-4 Hokies to finish 7-11 in league play, making all five of their remaining home games particularly important.

Bruce Brown broke out of his offensive slump to lead Miami to victory at N.C. State on Sunday.
(athlonsports.com)

  • Most Outstanding Player: After a stellar freshman campaign last year, Miami preseason all-ACC first-teamer Bruce Brown has not lived up to his sophomore expectations. However, Brown’s best performance of the season –19 points, nine assists and four rebounds — came in the Hurricanes’ critical Sunday road win over NC State. Brown was also extremely efficient in his performance, making 7-of-8 shots from the field and posting an outstanding 153.0 offensive rating for the game. It’s increasingly obvious that Miami goes as Brown goes this season — in three ACC wins, Brown is averaging 17.7 points on 68.0 percent shooting; in three conference losses, however, he is managing just 6.7 points per contest on a frigid 25.0 percent shooting clip.
  • Unsung Heroes: Florida State’s M.J. Walker picked a great time to have a career game, posting season-highs in points (24) and rebounds (six) while providing a necessary spark off the bench in the Seminoles’ win at Virginia Tech. He came into the game having made only 4-of-23 attempts from beyond the arc in league action this season, but he nailed 4-of-7 threes on Saturday. It was deja vu all over again in Raleigh for Miami reserve center Ebuka Izundu, who scored a season-best 15 points on 7-of-7 shooting from the field. Just one short year ago, Izundu notched a career-high 16 points in another Miami road win at N.C. State. Finally, we offer some admiration for Louisville freshman wing Jordan Nwora. Instead of sulking about his minimal playing time to this point in the season, Nwora earned 16 minutes of action in the Cardinals’ 77-69 victory over Boston College and came through with 15 points and five boards.
  • Most Efficient Offense/Least Efficient Defense: Florida State had its best offensive game (1.25 points per possession) of the ACC season at the expense of Virginia Tech. The Seminoles were hot at every spot on the floor on Saturday, making 57.9 percent of their twos, 45.0 percent of their threes, and 76.9 percent from the foul line. Leonard Hamilton got balanced scoring from his squad, with seven different guys contributing eight points or more.
  • Most Efficient Defense/Least Efficient Offense: What else is new? Virginia‘s defense did it once again, holding Wake Forest to 0.83 points per possession in the Cavaliers’ mind-numbing 59-49 win on Sunday night. In another lockdown effort, Tony Bennett’s team threw a blanket over the Deacs, limiting them to a measly 37.0 percent shooting from the floor. Virginia also only allowed six offensive rebounds and pressured Wake into a 20.4 percent turnover rate. In their six ACC games to date, the Cavaliers have allowed just 0.87 points per possession – easily the best mark in the league and the top number among all major conference squads in league play.
Upcoming Week – Four Games to Watch
  • Wednesday 1/24 – Louisville at Miami (7:30 ET ESPN2)
  • Saturday 1/27 – Virginia at Duke  (2:00 ET CBS)
  • Saturday 1/27 – Miami at Florida State (4:00 ET ACCN)
Brad Jenkins (308 Posts)


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